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Tour gets off to a flying start with Red Arrows' help

Lincolnshire's Red Arrows have helped ensure the Tour de France cycle race got off to a flying start today Credit: ITV News Central
The air-acrobatics team are based at RAF Scampton Credit: ITV News Central
The Arrows were seen soaring over the Yorkshire hills and dales, where thousands of spectators have gathered to watch the race Credit: ITV News Central
The team also flew over the stately home of Harewood House, near Leeds Credit: ITV News Central


Students awarded in memory of Red Arrows pilot

Flt. Lt. Jon Egging, in whose memory the Blue Skies charity was set up Credit: Ministry of Defence

Students in Lincoln will be presented with awards today to recognise their completion of an RAF programme set up in memory of a Red Arrows pilot from Warwickshire who died during a display three years ago.

The Blue Skies Programme charity was set up in memory of Flt. Lt. Jon Egging from Ufton, who lost his life in August 2011 at the Bournemouth Air Festival.

The charity aims to realise his dream of helping young people overcome adversity, identify their strengths and work towards their ambitions.

Twenty five students aged 13 to 15 from the Priory Witham Academy have been mentored through the nine session programme by trained personnel from RAF Coningsby, RAF Cranwell, RAF Scampton, RAF Wittering, RAF Waddington and MoD North Luffenham.

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Red Arrows video gets almost 30,000 views in three days

A video posted online showing what it's like to fly with the red arrows has been viewed almost 30,000 times in three days.

The film shows the inside of the cockpit as the team fly over the Lincolnshire countryside for a practice session including dips, dives and manoeuvres. The Red Arrows, which are in their 50th year, fly out to Cyprus tomorrow for a training session ahead of a new display season.

You can see the full video here.

Red Arrows reveal new tail-fin design for planes

The Red Arrows have unveiled a new tail-fin design for their famous planes, to mark 50 years of air displays across the country.

The Union flag design which will appear on all of the planes, was revealed at their base at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire today. The team is hoping to have all of the Hawk planes displaying the design in time for a training trip to Cyprus at the end of March.


Family of Red Arrows pilot 'find it difficult' to understand why opportunities to prevent tragedy were missed

In a statement, the father of Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham says his son died doing what he loved, adding that the family are struggling to accept how many opportunities were missed which could have prevented his death.

Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham

Flight Lieutenant Cunningham's father Jim Cunningham said:

“Our son Sean died aged 35 doing what he loved which was flying with the Red Arrows. From the age of 17, he had wanted nothing more than to join the Royal Air Force and serve his country, which he did with utmost pride and sense of duty.

“He served a number of tours in Iraq flying Tornados in close air support of coalition forces. Sean’s death was a tragedy which we hope the evidence revealed in this Inquest, will help to avoid in the future.

“We still find it difficult to accept that so many people could have missed, between Sean’s last sortie on Friday and the following Tuesday, what should have been obvious to those having a duty to ensure the safety of the seat, and we remain unconvinced as to that aspect of the Coroner’s finding.

“Nevertheless, we accept that how the seat firing handle came to be in a position where it could be inadvertently activated may never be fully understood.

"We welcome the conclusions of the Coroner which confirm what we knew all along, which is that Sean was blameless and his tragic death was preventable.

"We therefore welcome the Coroner’s recommendations, which we hope and pray will ensure that no family such as ours, has to endure such a pointless and avoidable death."

Manufacturer of Red Arrows' ejector seat says 'lessons have been learned'

The manufacturer of the ejector seat says it has learned lessons after the death of a Red Arrows pilot who died after being accidentally ejected from his Hawk T1.

Flight Lieutenant Sean Cunningham was killed at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire in November 2011. He did not separate from the ejector seat and his parachute did not deploy because a shackle had jammed.

Martin-Baker says it has 'taken steps to alert all [of its] customers worldwide who use this type of seat of the risk of over tightening the shackle'.

We would like to extend our sincere condolences to Flight Lieutenant Cunningham's family and friends. Martin-Baker is a family owned company producing vital equipment for people doing a dangerous and important job. We take our responsibilities to these individuals very seriously and we are all deeply saddened by this terrible accident.

The ejection seat is qualified to save a life on a ground level ejection. On this occasion, uniquely in the entire history of Martin-Baker ejection seats using this particular feature, it failed due to a shackle bolt being too tight. This prevented the main parachute from deploying.

Lessons have been learned and we have taken steps to alert all our customers worldwide who still use this type of seat, of the risk of over tightening the shackle.

Furthermore, our designers, working closely with military experts have developed a new type of shackle bolt and firing handle housing, which both Martin-Baker and the military authorities consider will prevent the reoccurrence of the circumstances that led to this tragic accident.

Martin-Baker is proud to be able to say that, since 1946, it has led the world in the design development and manufacture of ejection seats. As of today's date, these seats have saved 7436 lives, seven in this month alone.

– Martin-Baker spokesperson
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